Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Channeling Saint Bourdain

A hero of mine is having a very good year. Anthony Bourdain - big city chef, memoirist and acerbic TV host is everywhere. Don't believe me? Click around the internets and read countless accounts of his insouciant skewering of the celebrity Chef mold. Or check out No Reservations on The Travel Channel and watch this prickly New Yorker knock back seal eyeballs and warthog with the air of a seasoned bon vivant. Why, it's almost enough to make me stash this laptop and fire up the boob tube ... Naaaah, I'll just flip through my threadbare copy of Kitchen Confidential - Bourdain's seven year old memoir that took him from New York's fanciest kitchens to the human race's collective consciousness. Not bad for a self-admitted loser, user and abuser.

But then again, it was exactly that disquieting vibe that made Bourdain's book so sinfully delicious. Why else would a book detailing the kind of big city food this simple Southerner simply doesn't understand hold me so enraptured? Simple. It was his unflinching honesty; from the loving disdain he used to describe his damaged industry, to the zeal he employed while recounting his own tortured comportment. That kind of storytelling courage I can't help but admire, for the last few years of aping his on-page behavior have taught me how very hard it can be to keep it between the lines. So if you're the book-reading type, pick up Kitchen Confidential or flip over to The Travel Channel and witness his gastro-global domination. I'm not promising you'll find everything that comes out of (or goes into) his mouth appealing, but at least you'll get a taste of what I've been trying to cook up all this time....

Just don't call the waiter over, would ya?

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